TT 122: Early jazz blogs, James Newton and Misha Mengelberg

New DTMs:

“Back to be.jazz” is a little bit of personal history. Great to see Mwanji Ezana again…

“Updates on James Newton and Misha Mengelberg” promotes varied cool stuff.

JAMES NEWTON SCROLL-SCROLLING VIDEOS! omg. As I write in the post: “I’ve embedded these videos, but by all means go over to Newton’s new channel, hit a few links, and teach the algorithm to promote these beautiful pieces, or at least grant him a little more searchable edge against his ‘competitor’ James Newton Howard. (!)”


Saw NO TIME TO DIE in London. It is what it is. The scene with Ana de Armas was the best part. I am no Bond diehard but my fanatical interest in genre fiction inevitably interacts with the massive movie franchise. The creator, Ian Fleming, had a sardonic wit, and in my view the movies are best when they are not taking themselves too seriously.

I suppose any of the Bond actors have worthy scenes, but I don’t think there’s a single Bond movie that is good the way, say, THE BOURNE IDENTITY is good.

In the end the current Bond movies seem to be another franchise that is trapped in the memories of the fans who got engaged as a teen (or even as a prepubescent) and now fiddle about with making it “adult.” The one mildly profound detail in the new movie is its forthright engagement with children. In the first scene there’s a child killer and related themes develop. One can feel a subtle question about gun violence in our entertainment…

…But again, there’s just not that much there, it is what it is, including about 30 straight minutes of machine-gunning at the end.

The score by Hans Zimmer was worst part….

.,,Still, it was a fun three hours. Afterwards Billy Hart said, “That’s the kind of movie I like.” Yeah. I like ‘em too. Escapism is important.

TT 121: Harold Land and Hampton Hawes, with a side of Thomas Harris

New DTM: “Ursula” by Harold Land and “Hip” by Hampton Hawes.


According to Wikipedia, the legs on the cover of Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin’ belonged to Ruth Lion, Alfred's wife. You learn something new every day...


“This is how River Cartwright slipped off the fast track and joined the slow horses.” — I’m finally starting the Slough House series by Mick Herron, and I admit that’s a hell of a first sentence.


And then there’s Hannibal by Thomas Harris. I had always heard it was terrible, and also was aware of the disturbing trajectory of Clarice Starling, so gave it a pass despite my admiration for Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. However, the latest, Cari Mora, is good. When I noticed that Cari Mora received strikingly unsympathetic, even petulant, reviews, I felt solidarity with the author, who will always remain one of the genre’s greatest masters. (Don’t we want more Thomas Harris on the shelves, rather than less? After the drubbing Cari Mora got, I’d be surprised if he bothered to get in the game again.)

Hannibal is not quite what I expected. The tonal shift from the previous two books is so shocking that at first I found it almost unreadable. But then, after I settled in, I realized that Hannibal was camp; or, if camp is too strong, then at least sardonic, knowing, judgmental, and meta. The obvious subtext is: how does an author live with having created a best-selling monster?

Unlike the straightforward narratives that gave Harris his reputation, Hannibal has more in common with the mysterious absurdities of Charles Willeford, perhaps especially Grimhaven, the still-unpublished scream of despair that Willeford produced in disgust after being informed Miami Blues was a hit.

Just one detail. After the opening shoot-out, the Guinness Book of Records contacts Starling, wishing to include her as the female law enforcement officer who has killed the most people in the line of duty. This is not a serious crime writer at work; this is the author letting us know to keep our wits about us, and to wonder at the larger implications of being entertained by violent death.

To be clear, in terms of being an unequivocal masterpiece, Hannibal is obviously no Red Dragon. (Then again, few books can be held to the Red Dragon standard.) However, Hannibal did teach me that Harris’s trajectory has more subtlety then I realized. I’m going to keep reading and considering.


TT 120: Pamela Espeland

Quite stunned and saddened by the shocking news that Twin Cities arts reporter Pamela Espeland has passed away. I didn't know Pamela well, but she covered the Bad Plus whenever we played in Minneapolis. Over the years we exchanged a few enjoyable moments of marveling at other great musicians together. Her beat was not just jazz, or even just music, but the Arts writ large, and I'm sure she covered it all well -- yet I believe she did really have a soft spot for jazz, an attribute not shared by most general arts journalists.

I just saw Pamela last week at Crooners for the gig with Marcy, we spoke for ten or fifteen minutes. As always, she was very encouraging and positive. If I'd known it was the last time I would see her I would have tried to thank her more properly.


On one occasion I was somewhat of a genuine news story on my own, and she wrote about it for Bebopified.

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